It’s the same lines and lineup for the Penguins as yesterday, with the one change coming in net as Tristan Jarry is back in.
It's a great day for hockey! pic.twitter.com/0E4sXzmP7Z— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 21, 2021
The Pens strike quickly just 3:37 into the game, and it’s who else but the first line continuing their strong play to create a goal. Brian Dumoulin enters the zone on the rush, and the poor guy doesn’t even get an assist as he passes to Bryan Rust who connects with Jake Guentzel. Guentzel fires a great cross-ice pass and Sidney Crosby makes a classic play to drop to a knee and one-t past Mackenzie Blackwood. 1-0 Pens.
Top line perfection.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 21, 2021
Sidney Crosby leads the way for Pittsburgh on home ice with 20 points (7G-13A) in 15 games. pic.twitter.com/Vq5SY1a7TL
Other than that, a pretty good period for the Devils who control most of the play. Shots end up 12-10 NJ through one.
New Jersey gets the game’s first power play early in the second and they don’t score on it but they do build positive momentum and get and score soon after. After some extended zone time, Sami Vatanen gets a shot away from distance. Rust is in the lane a bit on Jarry, but he doesn’t seem to track the puck well and it goes by him. To Vatanen’s credit, it was a really hard shot to the top corners. And it gives us a 1-1 game.
Fire away.— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) March 21, 2021
: Zajac pic.twitter.com/WjxZuf5fFS
The Pens get the next two power plays, but fail to convert on both. Then the Devils get their second crack at a power play but don’t score as well.
Again this period the Devils have the puck more and put a good deal of pressure on the Pens and Tristan Jarry. Jarry does well to stop 13/14 shots that he sees in the second period. Shots through two periods total are 26-23 in favor of Jersey.
A third period was played. And that’s about as much as you can say about that. No penalties, no goals, a couple decent chances at each end, but relatively as quiet a period as you will find. With the score tied 1-1, the teams each collect a point for the standings and head to overtime.
Jared McCann with Rust and Kris Letang to start the 3v3. The Pens hand Jesper Bratt a clean breakaway and Letang does well to cleanly to break up the chance without taking a penalty.
Crosby-Guentzel-John Marino is the Pens’ next trio.
Evan Rodrigues -Kasperi Kapanen-Mike Matheson is the following group over the boards. Rodrigues changes for Crosby with a broken stick but the Pens get trapped on the ice, and Bratt scores with a wraparound to his forehand that beats Jarry and Matheson to the post.
What a finish!!— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) March 21, 2021
: Smith pic.twitter.com/V9nr0f8I04
Devils win 2-1.
- The first two games against NJ, the Pens might not have scored a lot, but they were getting shots and good looks at the net. Dangerous chances at least. Didn’t feel like the same today. Unless it was the Crosby line+Letang, or like once a period Kasperi Kapanen showing his face, it felt like the entire rest of the team was completely harmless and just bound to never score.
- That was a shame too, Blackwood was coming back from a minor injury and looked like he was fighting the puck a little. The Pens couldn’t really push the issue on him early that much to fully exploit it, and to Blackwood’s credit he settled in and ended up playing very well as the game went along.
- And it’s tough to win by scoring only 1 goal. In the end, the Pens were lucky to get the one point out of this game and move on to a nice little two day break.
- Yegor Sharangovich was a treat to watch all three games. A young, talented player, and nice parting gift for the Devils organization by Ray Shero. Shero drafted Sharangovich in the fifth round of the 2018 draft. Didn’t seem like Shero drafted too many Russian forwards in his Penguin days, so maybe a nice sign to show that NHL GM’s can change and grow in their second jobs (eyes direct towards Ron Hextall). Anyways, Sharangovich hit two posts today and had a host of other great scoring chances that he was involved in. He was one of the best and most noticeable players today.
- Pens now fall to 4-2 in OT’s this season. Tough to be great forever in 3v3 situations. Pittsburgh is also a perfect 3-0 for shootouts this year.
- The Pittsburgh power play going 0-for-2 against the 28th ranked NHL PK (71.3%) is a tough one to swallow, especially when one goal may have meant tipping the balance of the game.
- But with no Teddy Blueger, no Brandon Tanev, the PK going 2/2 is nice. It’s been slowly stabilizing as of late.
An OT loss for Pittsburgh is at once a bit disappointing, but also satisfactory because that’s about what they deserved. This was the 5th game for the Pens in 7 days, and they have a depleted lineup. Didn’t seem like a matter of effort or lack of preparation, just a banged up team at the end of a long stretch. The good news is the Pens get a few days to recover before their next game on Wednesday night. The better news is that game is against Buffalo, a team who hasn’t won a game in a month.